By Anil Sharma, IANS,
Jaipur : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday returned to power in Rajasthan after five years, winning a record 162 seats and leaving the Congress bruised with just 21 members in the 200-seat legislature.
BJP supporters decorated the state capital with posters and banners and sang and danced to the beat of drums. They also shouted slogans like “Modi-Modi” and “Vasundhara Raje Zindabad”, and burst fire crackers.
This win by the BJP is the best performance among all parties in the history of the state. The previous record was by the Congress, which won 153 seats in the 1998 elections.
The Congress won just 21 seats, the party’s worst performance. Before this election, the party’s lowest tally was in 1977 when it won 41 seats.
Incumbent Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met Governor Margaret Alva in the evening and submitted his resignation, while state Congress president Chandrabhan, who not only lost from Mandawa constituency but also forfeited his deposit, sent his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi.
BJP sources told IANS that the party has already started making preparations for the oath-taking ceremony of Vasundhara Raje as the chief minister.
“She is likely to take oath in the next four or five days,” a party source said.
“Vasundhara-ji always takes astrological advice before undertaking any good work, so I feel she will consult a pundit before deciding on the date of taking oath,” he added.
Election in one seat, Churu, was countermanded due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Jagdish Meghwal. The poll is now slated for Dec 13.
The BSP won three seats and candidates of the National People’s Party (NPP) were declared elected on four seats.
Prominent BJP leaders who won include chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje and Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria.
Raje was declared elected from Jhalrapatan constituency. She defeated her nearest rival from the Congress, Meenakshi Chandrawat, by over 60,000 votes.
The biggest win was recorded by Ghanshyam Tiwari of the BJP who defeated his nearest Congress rival in Sanganer constituency by a margin of over 62,000 votes.
Vasundhara Raje, who is also the BJP state president, said: “I was confident that we will win. It is a vote against the Congress party’s poor governance in the state.”
“I thank Narendra Modi (BJP prime ministerial candidate) and Rajnath Singh (party president) for touring the state extensively and holding rallies.”
“This is the win of party workers, youths and women. (For the) first time, voters voted against the misrule of the Congress,” she said addressing party workers in the state BJP office.
The Congress, which won 102 seats in the last elections in 2008, recorded one of its worst defeats.
Chief Minister Gehlot of the Congress was declared elected from Sardarpura constituency, defeating his BJP rival Shambhu Singh Khetasar by over 18,000 votes.
Among those who lost the elections were senior Congress leader B.D. Kalla, Tourism Minister Bina Kak, Medical and Health Minister A.A. Khan, Urban Development Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal and Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek.
Arjuna Awardee discus thrower Krishna Punia lost from Sadulpur constituency.
“We accept the people’s mandate. My government worked for the welfare of all. We launched various social welfare schemes too. There is no point in getting depressed. One party wins, another loses,” Gehlot said.
Earlier in the day, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi called up the party’s chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje and congratulated her on the party’s win in the state.
“He (Modi) called Vasundhara Raje and congratulated her on performing very well in the elections in the state. Raje thanked him for the efforts he put in the state during campaigning,” a BJP leader told IANS.
Raje, who landed at Jaipur airport in the evening, was accorded a warm welcome by supporters, who shouted slogans in support of their leader and offered bouquets.
“We have come back… we are going to form the government. We are very happy,” a visibly excited BJP leader A.K. Purohit told IANS.
“It shows that Rajasthan voters have rejected the Congress government and its claims of development,” said Onkar Singh Lakhawat, state BJP vice president.
“The people have given their verdict. The voters have voted against poor governance,” he said.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])